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Open courses: how to make money in this fast-growing market?

Check out 3 options to enter this market and make money out of it!

Ana Codeglia

10/19/2018 | By Ana Codeglia

Open courses have become very popular all over the world, and in fact its popularity has been growing steadily. That’s mostly because they present several advantages for students today who look for inexpensive, effective options to specialize in specific areas, without having to go through bureaucratic means.

You’ve probably already taken a free course at some point in your life, whether to learn some skill from scratch, to delve into some field you hadn’t studied before or even to develop a new hobby.

That is why this type of education has also attracted the attention of entrepreneurs and those who want to start their own business without having to invest a lot of money to start.

In this post, we’ll show you some interesting facts about this market and  we’ll give you some tips to make money by creating your own course. Are you ready?

After all, what are open courses?

Open courses are those that offer training outside the traditional academic field, that’s to say, without the formalities of traditional teaching. For example, it isn’t necessary to take a university entrance exam or to do SATs in order to enroll and take classes.

This type of course is not validated by the Education Department (ED) and generally doesn’t offer a diploma when the student completes his studies. However, this isn’t necessarily a downside.

On the contrary, many students opt for this alternative due to a number of reasons:

  • Free courses are more focused on clear, specific and practical goals.
  • They aren’t largely bureaucratic for the student to enroll
  • Generally, they are financially accessible (sometimes free).
  • They usually have flexible schedules that fit the student’s routine.
  • They offer a certificate of completion of the course, which can be included in the student’s resumé.

Another factor that leads young people opting to do open courses is that the current job market is increasingly valuing candidates’ skills instead of a traditional diploma.

Of course, professionals in some areas, such as medicine, law and engineering, still depend on university diploma to be able to practice their profession.

But in other cases, college is not always a prerequisite: aesthetics professionals, chefs, language teachers, marketing professionals and software developers are just a few of the examples of jobs where it’s possible to get the knowledge from free courses and you can become very successful in the market.

Elon Musk, the owner of Tesla and SpaceX, once said that he prioritizes skills when hiring, not the diploma. In a 2014 interview with, he stated the following:

“Today, having a college degree is not a synonym of employability. When we look at the market, we see that demands arise in more technical and specialist areas. Those qualifications have been the ones that have generated more jobs. ”

Moreover, even those who have higher education diplomas can benefit from free courses, either to deepen a knowledge, to give a “boost” to their CV or to simply explore a new ​​activity.

And we can’t forget that it’s not just young people and the ones who are looking for a job that take free courses. In fact, anyone can opt for this learning method to achieve their goals.

Children, teens and the elderly can also benefit from the advantages of this type of class, and they even represent a large share of the students who study in this context.

Which courses are the most sought after?

Considering it’s a more informal form of education, open courses don’t have a fixed format: there are free and paid, short and long-term courses for beginners and experts, for children, teens, young people and adults, both in person and at a distance .

However, there are some niche markets that are the most sought after and they can be a good choice for anyone who wants to undertake that job. Shall we see what they are?


Language courses are probably the most popular when we think about free courses. In addition, there are several prestigious schools in the market that offer this type of service, with different plans options and methods.

A great advantage of language courses is that there is a diverse audience and a very high demand, after all, several languages ​​can be studied, people of all ages are interested in them and they have several goals. Some of the most common options are:

  • Children’s Courses;
  • Tutoring classes for school;
  • Foreign language for business;
  • Foreign language for tourism;
  • Foreign language for exchange programs;
  • Foreign language for SATs;
  • Foreign language for proficiency exams;
  • Languages for Specific Purposes;
  • Conversation;
  • Local language for foreigners;
  • Sign Language.


Free cooking courses are also on the rise because they can appeal to a variety of people: those who want to have a business in the gastronomy niche, those who wish to use the art of cooking as a hobby or, even, those who want to learn the basics simply to prepare meals themselves.

There are infinite micro niches in this category, since there is no lack of options when it comes to food, isn’t it?

Therefore, we’ve selected some of the most relevant ones today:

  • Pâtisserie;
  • Decoration of cakes;
  • Snacks for parties;
  • Savory pies;
  • Diet and light cuisine;
  • Vegan and vegetarian cuisine;
  • Bar food;
  • Pasta and sauces;
  • Soups and salads;
  • Japanese cuisine;
  • Italian culinary;
  • Arabic cuisine;
  • Meat, fish and poultry;
  • Drinks and cocktails;
  • Wine tasting;
  • Desserts.


The beauty market is one of the fastest growing in the world. Therefore, open courses in this niche are always in high demand, mainly by those who want to work or to become and entrepreneur in the beauty segment.

As mentioned in the other topics, there are several options available and among them we can mention the following:

  • Haircut and colouring techniques;
  • Makeup for parties;
  • Hairstyles for parties;
  • Bridal production;
  • Manicure and pedicure;
  • Gel and decorated nails;
  • Waxing;
  • Eyebrows design;
  • Makeup tutorials.


Free online management courses are popular among professionals who want to specialize in the field and among those who wish to acquire new knowledge to move up the career ladder.

In addition, there are also management courses aimed at people who want to improve the way they manage their personal finances, for example, and for those who are venturing into the world of entrepreneurship.
Check out, below, some of the most sought after courses in this segment:

  • Team development;
  • Strategic planning;
  • Leadership strategies;
  • Business management;
  • Personal finances;
  • Accounting;
  • Recruitment and selection;
  • Quality audit;
  • Administrative assistance;
  • Labor legislation.


There is no doubt that, increasingly, professionals need to master different tools and computer software to achieve success in their careers.
That is why free courses in this area attract the attention of those who wish to stand out in the job market and include something useful in their cv.
Within this segment, there are different courses that cover all levels, from beginners to advanced students. Here are some of the most common:

  • Computers basics;
  • Programming and coding Courses;
  • Web Design;
  • Excel courses;
  • Photoshop courses;
  • CorelDraw courses;
  • Word and  PowerPoint courses;


In addition to all the examples mentioned above, there are other areas that are worth investing in if you’d like to work with online teaching. There are infinite possibilities within several segments, such as the following:

  • Personal development;
  • Health and safety;
  • Marketing and advertising;
  • Fashion;
  • Education;
  • Tourism;
  • Environment;
  • Music;
  • Theater.

Beyond a shadow of doubt you have a specific knowledge that could help other people develop themselves in one or more of the areas we’ve mentioned.

How to make money with open courses?

Now that you already know what free courses are and which are the most sought after segments,  let’s get down to business: how to take advantage of this teaching method to make money?

As a matter of fact, there are three possibilities for those who want to work in this area:

  1. Work as a teacher
  2. Set up your own school
  3. Create and sell online courses

Let’s go over these options.

1. Work as a teacher

Working as a teacher hired at a school or institution that offers free courses is probably the fastest way to work in this area.

See below the pros, cons and how to get started:


  • You don’t need to invest money to start working as a teacher in open courses. The job

usually involves either a formal contract or as a freelancer.

  • You can work in more than one school or institution and thus increase your income.
  • You can have more flexible schedules compared to regular education teachers.


  • You have to follow the methodology of the school you work at, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but it can limit your creativity and restrict your autonomy.
  • Your pay depends on the hours you’ve actually worked , meaning this option doesn’t allow you to generate passive income.
  • Although schedules are more flexible than in regular school, you still have to keep a fixed schedule and answer to your boss.

How to begin:

Initially, you will need to have in-depth knowledge of the niche in which you want to work at and a well-done, clear and organized resumé.

To get a job in this area, look for open positions in newspapers or online portals and participate in the recruitment processes of your interest.

2. Set up your own school

Another option for those who want to work in the area of open courses is to set up a school of their own. This is a more targeted alternative for those who want to have a business of their own and that also has positive and negative points. See also:


  • As an entrepreneur, you will be your own boss and you can make your own decisions.
  • Being the owner of the business, the chance of making a considerable profit will be much greater.
  • If your school is successful, you can expand your business and scale up your profits by opening franchises in other neighborhoods or cities, for example.


  • You will need to have a high amount of money to invest in physical space, materials, hiring employees, advertising and more.
  • You will not only be responsible for your classes, but for the whole business management (sometimes having to work much more than eight hours a day).
  • The risk is high, since if the business isn’t successful, you may lose your investment.

How to begin:

Opening a school is a complex, multi-step task, and it would be necessary to create a specific post to address this topic alone.

But to start with, our tip is: search the internet for some information on the subject, on

reliable sites, before you actually make a decision.

3. Create and sell online courses

Last but not least, is the option to create open online courses. This is a great alternative for those who can’t invest too much money, but still want to have their own business and scale their sales.


  • You don’t have to invest a lot of money to create your product. In addition, you can create an online course without spending anything at all.
  • Being digital, the online course can be sold anywhere in the world. That is, you can be in New York and sell the course to someone who’s in Brazil or Thailand, for example.
  • You only need to create your course once and you can sell it as many times as you’d like. That is, if you sell the course for ten students or for a thousand, you will have the same amount of work.
  • You’ll be a business owner and you’ll be able to choose your working hours and where to work from.


  • As in the case of creating your own school, you will own your business and the responsibility to succeed will be yours alone.
  • You’ll not only have to worry about lesson content, but also other factors such as planning, promoting the business and finances.

How to begin:

Starting an online course is not a difficult task, but it requires planning and dedication. Some basic steps you should take to create video classes are:

Now, hands on!

As you may have figured out, investing in open courses and Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) is well worth it for anyone who wants to work with education and act in a segment that is steadily rising.

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If you have an expertise that can help other people and if you want to be a teacher, focusing on this teaching method can be the key to your professional success.

Here at Hotmart, we work daily with several digital entrepreneurs who were able to make teaching online courses an opportunity to have a solid business and, more than that, to make a living out of their passions.